Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Algebra Math Centers

After a successful round of math STAR testing today, the sixth graders will be back at it tomorrow with some more functions! Here is what we have in store for math workshop!

Teacher Center
At our teacher center we will be focusing on taking a function from a table, writing it as an equation, and then being able to graph the equation using a t-chart. This lesson can be a lot to take in at first, so we are spending a second day learning about how to do this! My students that already have got it down will be working on the enrichment problems, which require them to work with functions that are a bit more complicated! Click on the picture to find a copy!


Homework Center
During the homework center, students will have an assignment from our Math Connects textbook. This will be some more practice taking a function from a table, writing an equation, and graphing the equation on a coordinate plane. Like I said, this can be a lot at first for sixth grade, so this will be an important center for students to practice what we have just covered at the teacher center! I give students the option of two different assignments...A or B. Homework A is the "regular" homework and homework B is a little more challenging. Students decide for themselves how they are feeling about a particular lesson.

Problem Solving
Tomorrow we will be starting a new Problem of the Month from the Inside Mathematics website. I've talked a lot about these before, but I have to say again how much I love these! Click the link or the picture to find out for yourself how great they are! Tomorrow I am using the Growing Staircases problem. I have also created a free answer sheet for students to show their work on. Click the link below to grab a copy! I print off six of the problems on colored cardstock for each group to use, since there is a maximum of six students working on it at any given time during our math center rotations.


Technology/Hands-on Center
At our technology/hands-on center, my sixth graders will be playing a math review game that we learned a few months ago at the beginning of our algebra units - Algebra Top-it. I created Algebra Top-it for students to practice substituting in a number for a variable and solving expressions. The game is similar to the card game War, however students need to roll a die and flip over a card each round. After solving the expression using the number they rolled for the variable, they see who has the greater solution. Winner gets the cards! Make sure you grab a copy! Or better yet, follow my TPT store and blog and get one for free (see the banner in my store for more info!).


Have a great rest of your week! Can't believe it's almost February already!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Math Center Sunday!

With my report cards finished and lesson plans almost ready to go for the week, I thought I'd take some time to write about some of the different math centers I have been using in 6th grade math these days. If you've read my Math Workshop page, you know that my teacher center and homework center are pretty set into stone. It is the tech/hands-on center and the problem solving center that I have a little more flexibility to try out new resources!

Checking out 6 iPads to use as a technology center has been one of my go to centers this year. It is easy to plan, students love using them, and there are a lot of great math apps out there that can benefit students! I also want to try to start using them in different ways. This week I am going to set up small coordinate planes that are taped to the floor. Students will be graphing ordered pairs and functions on these graphs. I am going to try having each group take a picture on the iPads of their graph. I think this will help hold them accountable during the center and they will enjoy being able to take the pictures of what they've worked on!

Brain Busters
I recently finished making these Math Brain Busters for each of the sixth grade math common core standards. Each of the five sets (Number Systems, Ratios & Proportional Relationships, Expressions & Equations, Geometry, and Stats & Probability) have 105 questions relating to that specific standard. I also have an additional set that includes 150 questions from all five standards. I have been using these as a math center and also for students who finish early during a work time! There is something about the format of these that students love! I guess being able to flip through the questions and answers is a lot more fun than worksheets! You can find the individual sets or buy them bundled together in my TPT store. All of my bundles are 10% off for the rest of the day!


Problems of the Month
I know I have mentioned these on earlier posts, but they are too good not to share again! This is my go to resource for my problem solving center. I pick out a problem of the month from the Inside Mathematics website and have six laminated copies at the center. I usually give students about a week for each problem. They are all multi-step problems that require more time to solve. I recently have started creating a separate answer sheet to go along with the problem. Students record their answers on the answer sheet and turn it in at the end of the week. This has held the students a little more accountable for the work that they are doing at this center. I would highly recommend checking these problems out if you haven't already!

Percent Scramble
This is a fun game I created a few months ago when we were learning about how to find the percent of a number. I plan on bringing this one back out soon to use as a review center. Percent Scramble is free in my TPT store, so be sure to grab your copy! It is pretty easy to prep (just some printing and cutting out cards). In the game, students flip over a percent card and a whole number card. They must find that percent of their whole number to see how many points they get for the round. At the end of the game, both players add up their point totals to determine the winner!


Equation Top-it Games
These Equation Top-it games have been a big hit in my classroom. I created these before we started our algebra units. Everyone (or at least almost everyone) loves the classic card game War. These games have the same general idea, except that students must solve an equation to get their number for the round. I broke the games down into different types of equations. There is an addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and two-step equation game. The great part is that you can also combine the cards to create an Equation Top-it game that involves different types of equations. I have used these a lot as a center and also during our math intervention time. Here is the link to the Equation Top-it Bundle, but you can also get them separately!

As always, I'd love to hear your comments or ideas that you are using as your math centers!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Latest in the World of 6th Grade Math - Algebra and More

It's been great getting back into the school routine as we head towards the final few weeks of January! In 6th grade math, we just finished up our first two algebra units (Expressions and Equations) and are gearing up for our final algebra unit, which focuses on functions, inequalities, and absolute value. This picture is of some of my students working on writing and solving two-step equations during math workshop. We have spent the entire last chapter practicing writing and solving equations, and my students are really starting to get it! I have been trying to incorporate as many different types of activities as I can that have students practicing these concepts!

One fun activity that I recently created is this Algebra Equation Sort. The idea is pretty simple...students get a set of cards that are mixed up. The orange cards are the solution cards. The white cards each have an equation on one side and a letter on the other. Students must sort the cards into the correct group by finding the solution to the equation. Once they are sorted, they can flip over the cards and try to unscramble the words in each group. Who doesn't want to solve equations when you end up with a "nasty, slimy, sloth?" The cards are easy to mix and match. When I used it in my classroom last week, I put students into groups of 3-4 and gave each group 3 of the orange solution cards and the five cards that went with each solution (15 total equation cards). With groups who finished early, I had them switch with another group and solve a new set of equations!


We also got a lot of practice writing and solving equations during our Review Jeopardy game at the end of the unit. We had some exciting and close games this time around! Here was the final jeopardy question. I made sure to create one that dealt with two-step equations, since that is something we have been working so hard to master! And yes...that IS an old school chalkboard that I have in my classroom - but it works great for my daily schedule, learning goals, assignment notebook board, and things like final jeopardy!

Coming up on Monday, we are taking our first shot at graphing. I'm going to try out some life size graphing to introduce our lesson! I haven't tried this in past years, so hopefully it all goes smoothly. In the past, many of my students have struggled to remember how to graph ordered pairs - which one is the x-coordinate, which one is the y-coordinate, etc. I'm hoping that getting them out of their seats and physically standing on the points will help it stick a little better! I have six of these coordinate grids taped to the ground. Students will be in groups of 3-4, with each student getting an ordered pair card. They will work together to get everyone in their group to the correct point on the graph!

One other resource that I created recently are these Expressions & Equations Brain Busters. I plan on using this set as a math center in the upcoming weeks. I have a set of 21 cards (105 problems) for each of the common core standards for sixth grade math. I also created one variety pack of 150 questions, which includes cards that have one question from each standard. Be sure to check them out, either individually or as a bundle, in my TPT store!


It has been a solid couple months of algebra in our 6th grade class! I am looking forward to finishing up this final chapter strong, before diving headfirst into our geometry units! I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the activities we have been trying out and would love to hear your algebra ideas in the comments section below!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hands-on Long Division

I wanted to share this quick, easy, and effective idea I tried out earlier this year as my 6th graders were reviewing long division! Before the lesson, I cut out and laminated some division bars and decimal points using cardstock. I also organized some decks of cards so that each group would have about six of each number. I taped some handwritten zeros over face cards for students to use. Once you have done this you are all set and have everything you need ready to go!

I had students work in groups of two or three. Each group randomly flipped over cards to create a division problem! I gave them some guidelines for the first couple problems (three digit number divided by two digit, etc.). Once they got the hang of it, I let them be a little more creative with the problems they created! They really enjoyed the hands-on aspect of this activity. I also liked how it forced them to slow down and think through each step! Thought I'd share this quick, free, and easy activity for long division practice! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Freebie and a Deal!

Like a lot of you this week, our district was closed due to cold weather. Our wind chills of close to -35 degrees gave us a full day off on Wednesday. It ended up being a pretty productive day. I was able to create this set of FREE math vocabulary words for a math word wall (or any other use you might have for them!). It includes 17 boldface heading words and 216 6th grade math vocabulary words. Eventually I plan on creating posters and examples that go along with the words...but that might have to wait until the summer. Be sure to grab your copy of the words!


I have also been hard at work creating new Math Brain Busters cards. I currently have four set up in my TPT store. One of the sets include cards that have questions from all five 6th grade math standards (150 total problems). The other three all focus on a single standard (105 problems each). This morning, I just finished up the Ratios & Proportional Relationships set. It will be on sale for $2 until 10 pm central time tonight!


I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and let's hope for some warmer weather ahead. I mean, it's only 86 days until opening day (not that I'm counting), so it has to start warming up soon!

Friday, January 9, 2015

My Favorite No

This idea was just too good to share - it is called My Favorite No. I was shown this video a few months ago at a school meeting and have been implementing it ever since. The teacher in the video uses it as a warm-up, but I adapted it and use it as an exit slip for my 6th graders. Check out the video (or read my description after if you are short on time!!).

My Favorite No

The idea is to give each student an index card or post-it note. At the end of class, I give them one or two problems that relate to our learning goal for the day. After collecting their responses, I quickly sort through their answers (in front of the class), sorting them into a "Yes" pile (correct) and a "No" pile (incorrect). As I look through the "No" pile, I pick out my favorite no, without saying names of course! I try to pick a response that had lot's of correct parts to it, but maybe one common or key mistake. As a class, we talk about the problem and correct the mistake.

I have found this activity to be very engaging for students! They all pay attention because they want to see if their problem is picked as "My Favorite No!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fun Around the Classroom

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Brain-Busters-Algebra-Expressions-Equations-1631608Well, you've got to love Wisconsin weather. With wind chills of -30 to -40 tomorrow, schools around us have already started to cancel for tomorrow. If we get canceled, I guess that means some new classroom activities will be on the way soon! A few weeks ago, I posted about the Math Brain Busters cards that I created. The original set has one question from each 6th grade math Common Core Standard. Since then, I created a separate set that focuses entirely on Expressions & Equations! My goal is to have one set for each standard by the time spring rolls around.

With a cold day looming, I thought it would be a fun change of pace to blog about a few of the fun "extras" I have around my room. These are just some fun routines or classroom items I have found or begun using to liven up my classroom! As always, if you have some of your own, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section at the bottom!

At the end of each school year, our school does a "bump up day." On this day, students get bumped up to the next grade level, so that they can meet their future teachers and see their future classrooms. Every year, there are three things my future students never fail to notice or ask questions about. First off...the math clock! I got this one as a present and it has been great for the classroom. Unfortunately it doesn't work anymore (even when I do have batteries in it), but I just can't bring myself to take it down. It is always one of the first things students notice when they come in.

Second...the bobbleheads! This is my personal collection that I have accumulated over the years, racing sausages and all! Unfortunately, the hot dog has sustained a few injuries over the years and is down a leg and an arm! This year I was even lucky enough to have a thoughtful student bring one in as a present that he had gotten at a game. I'm hoping to get to enough games this summer so I have to start a second shelf!

The third thing students always notice is my dropped marker tally. I started this one a few years ago, when my students were giving me a hard time about how often I dropped my white board marker. We decided it would be fun to keep track of it throughout the year...and so we did! It's funny how into it the sixth graders get. They never fail to notice me being clumsy! I occasionally use the data in class, especially once we get to our statistics and probability unit at the end of the year.

Finally, the last thing I started doing every day is creating a creative chalkboard date on our classroom schedule. I can't take credit for this idea either - this one was thanks to a student my first year of teaching. It was such a creative idea I had to start putting it up there every day! The dates are fun to come up with and I often have students who want to create them. I do find it funny...it seems like every year there is a student who doesn't realize the date is written like that until over halfway through the year!

Hope you've enjoyed some of our sixth grade fun! Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

All About Homework

It's hard to believe winter break is coming to an end! After spending some time relaxing and taking a trip to historic Lambeau Field (these were our nosebleed seats!), it's time to get back in the school state of mind...or at least partway there. With nothing new happening in the classroom, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about some of the new homework routines I've put in place this year with my 6th grade math students.

With our district's transition to grading for learning, my view of homework and its purpose has changed quite a bit from when I began teaching. Homework is a chance for students to practice whatever concept we are learning in class. It doesn't count towards a student's grade, other than being marked as turned in or missing. I have spent a great deal of time stressing to students how completing homework assignments has an almost direct correlation to how they do on tests, quizzes, and other in-class checks that reflect how they are doing in the class! Below are some of the things I have started to include into my daily homework routine.

1 -  Shared Homework List
This year I began sharing a homework list ahead of time with each student and parent on a shared Google document. This has been one of my favorite changes I've made to our homework routine. Before each chapter starts, I add all of the chapter's upcoming assignments to the document and print a hard copy to post in the classroom. As we get closer to each homework assignment, I add the due date to the document. Parents have really appreciated knowing the assignments in advance and it especially helps if a student knows that they will be absent for a day.

2 - Checking Homework
At the start of each class, I walk around the class and check each student's homework assignment from the previous day. I am looking for whether or not the student has completed the homework and shown work (if needed). Checking the answers is the responsibility of the students. I always assign problems from the book that have answers given in the back. This way, students and parents can check their own work as they complete the assignment. Although I don't collect every homework assignment, I still have these homework turn-in baskets in my room for any late work that needs to be checked!

3 - Homework Completion
In the past, I have struggled with getting students to complete their homework on time. Tracking our homework data as a class has helped motivate some of my students to improve their homework completion. For students who are missing a lot of work, my school also has them stay after school a couple of days each week to help them get caught up. This has helped motivate some of my students who have started to fall behind with work. Recently, one of my classes made it to 100% for three straight days!

It seems like every year my homework routines get tweaked to make it a little bit more effective and efficient! So far this year, I like how this system has been working. My students are much more accountable for turning in work than they have been in the past and it has shown in the percentage of students who are turning in homework. I'd love to hear how you run your homework routines in the comments section! Enjoy those last few days of winter break everyone!